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Advice for Budget Crossfire Gaming PC

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May 17, 2012 4:12:37 PM

Hello, :hello: 

I'm a first time builder with a few questions centered around crossfire set ups and PCI 2.0 vs 3.0. I would appreciate any feedback to my questions, especially motherboard choices.

Approximate Purchase Date: This week or next week
Budget Range: $1,000
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Movies
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Using newegg.ca for wishlists. I bargain hunt for prices once I select the components.
Country: Canada
Parts Preferences: Intel CPU (not sure why, just always used one)
Overclocking: Maybe
SLI or Crossfire: Yes


Below is my wishlist from Newegg.ca

http://secure.newegg.ca/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=17057391

Items in consideration:
Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W


For starters, I know I included 3 video cards in my list. The first being a GTX 560 Ti, and then 2x Radeon 7950. I did this because when I first started pricing my PC I had settled on the GTX560 with all of the other components listed on my wishlist. However, through recent events I'm able to acquire 2x 7950s for a VERY reasonable price.

I've also already purchased the Core i5 2500k and the PSU which were on sale last week.
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I would like to know first is if all of my components can handle a crossfire configuration with the 7950s. I understand that my selected motherboard will run the cards at PCI-e 8x and that it's also lacking PCI 3.0.

Question #1: Should I find a new motherboard that will run PCI 3.0. Does it make a huge difference? If I need a different motherboard, could someone point me to one that is reasonably priced?

Question #2: Is my 650w power supply sufficient to operate the crossfire set up with the 7950s?

Question #3: Will my processor prevent me from running PCI 3.0 if a motherboard can handle it? If so, what processor will allow it at a similar price point?

Question #4: The cards measure out to 300mm, will I encounter difficulties with my selected case?

I guess in the end, my biggest issue is being stuck with a processor that may not support PCI 3.0 and not knowing what motherboard I should select. If i need another processor, I can try to resell the processor or look at returning it.

FINAL NOTE: If another motherboard or CPU can not be found with similar price points, then I have the option of waiting just over a month and spending more on better components.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.
May 17, 2012 4:27:31 PM

yes find a new mother board everyone on here is most likely going to tell you not to because they all love GIGABYTE me i cant stand that brand i been seeing nothing but bad reviews on them. here is a pretty good board...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and i think you may wanna get a 1000 WATT i would but i don't kno with your PSU.

May 17, 2012 4:40:39 PM

That looks like a decent price point on the motherboard. Any other recommendations in that ballpark would be great.

Reading some product details, it's becoming quite clear that I jumped the gun too soon on my processor. It appears that any sandybridge processor will not support PCI 3.0.

Will the difference in PCI 3.0 really be that noticeable?
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May 17, 2012 4:48:52 PM

well even kno you purchased it you can still use it but if you plan on taking it back to the store ill recommend you a cpu if you take that one back :) 
May 17, 2012 4:53:53 PM

What recommendation for CPU would you give? I'm almost certain that I'm going to take it back or try to resell it, unless someone can advise me on whether or not PCI3.0 is worth the trouble or not.

Thanks for your help
May 17, 2012 4:55:36 PM

I would go with the new z77 mobo because it will support PCI 2.0 as long as you dont use a new Sandy Bridge chip. As for the PSU 650w should be ok but I would go with at least 800w to support the XFire and so you wont have to buy a new PSU in a month. Make sure it's a quality PSU and PLUS rated. Sometimes whats inside the PSU is more important than wattage. DON"T SKIMP ON YOUR PSU!!!!!

May 17, 2012 4:59:30 PM

I wouldnt worry about 3.0 right now. Unless you go with a new Sandy Bride chip. 2500k will work in the new Z77 boards so go with that. Go with a Seasonic or Corsair Gaming series PSU. Seasonic, in my opinion, is the best out there.
May 17, 2012 5:05:07 PM

One more thing. If you plan to Xfire/SLI make sure you get a board the that has dual slots at 16x. Most of your higher end mobos have it. If you get a board that has 1@16x and the other one @4x than whats the point of Xfiring? Its only using a quarter of the second card and to me isn't worth it. Just some food for thought.
May 17, 2012 5:13:24 PM

@mjz - is it all it's cracked up to be? I want one really bad
May 17, 2012 5:15:41 PM

upsguy1974 said:
One more thing. If you plan to Xfire/SLI make sure you get a board the that has dual slots at 16x. Most of your higher end mobos have it. If you get a board that has 1@16x and the other one @4x than whats the point of Xfiring? Its only using a quarter of the second card and to me isn't worth it. Just some food for thought.


I read somewhere on these boards that dual 16x or 8x is almost negligible. I definitely agree with your 4x statement though. I'd love to find a dual 16x with a good price point.
May 17, 2012 5:19:59 PM

upsguy1974 said:
@mjz - is it all it's cracked up to be? I want one really bad


i think its pretty good i need to buy a CPU cooler i cant wait to over clock it but that's me. its amazing for what games i play.
May 17, 2012 5:24:50 PM

@silly - Yeah x8 is cool and yes I would love to find one under $200. @mjz - what games are you currently playing. From what I read and what I know, the Sandy Bridges OC really nicely. Let me know what you come up with when you do OC it.
May 17, 2012 5:26:05 PM

Sillybearito said:
While this motherboard is quite nice, it's a bit far out of my price range. I guess if I want dual 16x and pci 3.0 im gonna have to shell out quite a bit.



Yup. Thats the cheapest one Ive seen.
May 17, 2012 5:29:44 PM

upsguy1974 said:
@silly - Yeah x8 is cool and yes I would love to find one under $200. @mjz - what games are you currently playing. From what I read and what I know, the Sandy Bridges OC really nicely. Let me know what you come up with when you do OC it.


i play GTA IV some times counter strike source, cs go when it come's out um bf3, mw3, Tf2 , Garrys mod, mine craft with a texture pack all that good stuff
May 17, 2012 5:34:02 PM

I guess it's going to come down to how much performance I'll lose by sticking the 7950 cards in pci 2.0 slots and also how much future proofing I want.

Does anyone have a link to pci 3.0 reviews in a crossfire config? 16x or 8x slot comparisons would be a bonus too!
May 17, 2012 5:44:39 PM

I was surprised to see the PSU sizing calculator at http://www.extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine suggested only 521W for your components (plus my arbitrary assumption about drives and fans, which wouldn't matter a whole lot).

Edit: Guys, please don't forget, OP is in Canada, using Canadian Newegg prices, not the U.S. ones.
May 17, 2012 5:48:12 PM

You won't see much of a difference from x8/x8 to x16/x16. Only LGA 2011 has x16/x16.
May 17, 2012 5:55:39 PM

Onus said:
I was surprised to see the PSU sizing calculator at http://www.extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine suggested only 521W for your components (plus my arbitrary assumption about drives and fans, which wouldn't matter a whole lot).

Edit: Guys, please don't forget, OP is in Canada, using Canadian Newegg prices, not the U.S. ones.



Surprised in a good or bad way?

Also I'm fine with dual 8x for crossfire. My biggest concern is finding decently priced CPU and mobo that will run pci 3.0 should it prove to be worth the investment. I'm looking at $200 to 250 for CPU and 100 to 200 for mobo.
May 17, 2012 6:07:09 PM

azeem40 said:
You won't see much of a difference from x8/x8 to x16/x16. Only LGA 2011 has x16/x16.


Not true. Your higher end mobos have dual x16's. 1155 socket. Look a couple threads up.
May 17, 2012 6:11:15 PM

The 3.0 shouldn't be the thing keeping you from pullin the trigger. Eventually it will all be 3.0. Build your rig around your CPU and branch out from there. It will make it a lot easier on you.
May 17, 2012 6:23:15 PM

upsguy1974 said:
The 3.0 shouldn't be the thing keeping you from pullin the trigger. Eventually it will all be 3.0. Build your rig around your CPU and branch out from there. It will make it a lot easier on you.



Then with that train of thought I should stick with the i5 2500k sandy bridge that I already have. Go with my original motherboard at 8x dual pci 2.0 and use the crossfire 7950. I just hope the performance between pci 2.0 and 3.0 with a crossfire is insignificant for the games I'll be playing (Diablo 3 and BF3)
May 17, 2012 6:28:49 PM

Sillybearito said:
Then with that train of thought I should stick with the i5 2500k sandy bridge that I already have. Go with my original motherboard at 8x dual pci 2.0 and use the crossfire 7950. I just hope the performance between pci 2.0 and 3.0 with a crossfire is insignificant for the games I'll be playing (Diablo 3 and BF3)


if i was you id buy a different mother board, like the asrock i suggested with that mother board you have up there. there are a ton of bad reviews....

here is the mother board i suggested to you.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
May 17, 2012 6:38:31 PM

PCI 2.0 Is Fine! Why Crossfire? Get A GTX 690 And You Will Have Something Similer To x2 6970 In Crossfire
Well Do You Have The Money For x2 6970/6950? Or A 690? But The 690 Does Cost A Lot!!!!!!!!!!
!